Hendy entered the study and cleared his throat.
The boss decided not to look up, but from the corner of his eye he could see the idiot bouncing on his heels. The damn fool had something to say and would stammer like an idiot for ten minutes before getting his thoughts and/or courage up. The boss decided he didn't feel like waiting to put him out of his misery.
"What is it?"
The simpleton said, "Sir, Gaenor is dead."
"Who?" The boss barely remembered his employees names. Most of them, like this one, were a pain.
"The baker, sir."
The boss looked up and saw that Hendy had turned pale. My, but he was really scared. Good. The boss prided himself on running a tight operation. It was important for his people to know fear. Fear of consequences. Fear of him.
Still not looking up. "I see."
He leaned back in his chair. He'd just given the baker a great business opportunity -- one of his most important. In a typical display of ineptitude, the baker up and dies. The boss was beginning to question the wisdom of insulating himself from day to day operations. He liked clean hands, but they came at a certain expense. He needed quality people to stay that clean, apparently. Quality people were in short supply.
He looked at Hendy now. "Fine, give it to the tailor."
Hendy looked like he was in pain and clutched his stomach. The boss could practically hear it turning from across the room. The fool was a bundle of nerves. Hendy was not quality. Quality was people who could keep calm with things erupted around them.
"What is it?" he dmaneded, impatient.
"S-s-s-sir," Hendy stammered, "you gave Gaenor the job already. He... uh... already made the deal. He took delivery of the items... and he... uh... made the loan."
The boss rolled his eyes. He hated sentimentality from those beneath him. It was such a waste of time and it stopped them from being able to think clearly. Who cared if the baker was dead? What difference did it make. No lord would default on pawned crown jewels. When he spoke again, he spoke slowly so Hendy could keep up.
"Send a boy to His Royal Perfumery, and explain that whats his name..."
"Gaenor," the idiot interrupted.
"That Gaenor has met with an accident. Tell him that his jewels are in capable hands and that payments can be made as previously arranged, but now they will be made to the tailor."
Now the boss really did hear Hendy's stomach. The pale idiot actually covered his mouth as if to keep from vomiting. Watching the man still squirming and searching for things to say made the boss felt a little uneasy himself.
"What is it, you damned simpering fool?"
"Sir, the items are g-g-gone."
The boss stood up suddenly and involuntarily. His heart began thudding in his ears.
"Gone where?" he roared.
"Uh... that is... no one knows, sir."
The boss felt himself shaking in anger. The fury was boiling through his veins and threatened to explode in a massive surge of profanity and violence. This deal was less than a few hours old and it had gone to gong already.
"Somebody knows, you idiot, bring his crew here and lets get to the bottom of this. We can't have those things in the wind."
"His... the crew was... they were all killed, too," Hendy sobbed.
The mewling sound only added to the fury the boss felt.
"Killed?!?!" The boss picked up the table nearest him and turned it over with a loud splintering crash. He pulled a book off the shelf nearest him and lobbed it at Hendy who was took weak or blind to duck. It careened off his skull with a deep thud. That was joined by a second and a third. A cut opened above the sobbing man's eye.
The boss roared, "You didn't say he had been killed. You said he was dead."
Hendy sank to his knees, blood streaming from his torn scalp and mixing with the tears and snot from his eyes and nose. By the smell, the lesser man had soiled himself. No matter. The boss pulled the bookshelf down next to the desk with another splintering crash, then turned and crossed the room to stare out the window and think.
If the baker and his whole crew were gone, that meant a hit. It meant that another one of the Arches was moving on him. The common people were too smart to make a move against a member of the Guild. No napper would be stupid enough to hit an Uncle in his own place. It had to be one of the Arches making a move... or else....
The boss thought for a moment and willed his thoughts to move slowly. Then he said them aloud.
"Or else the Prince himself is hanging us out to dry."
At that, Hendy sobbed again from behind him on the rug.
The boss knew what he wanted to do, but he had to take a breath and think it through. His tendency was toward immediate retribution. Extreme violence, perpetrated quickly against every available target. Crush everyone and everything... Now! But, he hadn't gotten this far loosing control and soiling himself like the idiot on his rug behind him. No, the first thing he needed was information. Good information. Complete information. He turned back to his idiot employee, still sobbing with his drawers full of shite.
"Tell me, again. This time don't leave out any details."
The boss sat down to listen, but his thoughts were still racing and Hendy would be forced to tell it again and again.
This was 10 gold bar deal. His biggest deal. That meant that his appraiser found the items valued much, much higher. That's how the business worked. If a noble defaulted on the loan extended, they knew the guild could turn the pawned collateral into cash in a hurry. That's why they only pawned things at half, it made the turnover that much easier. So there was a lot of incentive to keep up on the payments.
It worked both ways. These nobles, especially royalty, knew their things were safe. No one nossed with the Guild. No one and not even the Guild would rip off the crown. They too, had to keep their end of the bargain. And if the Guild couldn't keep those things that were pawned, safe?
The boss shook his head. There would be a storm. The King would loose his men on Guild. A lot of good thieves would die and a lot more would rot in the dungeon. Lads, Uncles, Arches... hell the Prince himself would be hung or drawn. Oh, yes, business would suffer for that kind of retribution and the crown would feel it, too. Things would be bad in Bolden and across the whole kingdom, but a king would weather that and just tax his nobles for lost revenue. The nobles would tax the commoners and tighten their leashes on the serfs. In the end, it would be inconvenient for the crown, but no king ever lost his life fighting the Guild.
So what? That wouldn't happen to the Guild. That couldn't happen. The Prince wouldn't allow it. He'd pay off the perfumed pansy just to avoid the trouble and he wouldn't eat the expense, either. His next stop would be right here. He'd come looking to collect.
The boss knew he was on the hook for the items. More than 25 gold bars... maybe as much as 30. That was a lifetime of wages for him. All of his operations in hock. All of his plans down the drain. He would be left barely heaving. No, this would amount to what he liked to call... unacceptable losses.
The boss looked at Hendy, who was still droning on in painstaking detail as the load in his breeches filled the study with the unmistakable smell of a privy-in-the-raw. The boss still wasn't listening. His anger had turned into a seething iron. He was quiet and controlled, but still white hot. He decided, then and there, to kill Hendy when the idiot finished telling it all a third time. It would be good sport, he decided, and would take the edge off this whole mess. And after Hendy was dead and in the ground, the boss would figure out what to do next. He always did. He didn't get where he was today, by not thinking clearly.